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Ratio of the density of a substance to that of a standard substance. For solids and liquids, the standard substance is usually water at 39.2°F (4.0°C), which has a density of 1.00 kg/liter. Gases are usually compared to dry air, which has a density of 1.29 g/liter at 32°F (0°C) and 1 atmosphere pressure. Because it is a ratio of two quantities that have the same dimensions (mass per unit volume), specific gravity has no dimension. For example, the specific gravity of liquid mercury is 13.6, because its actual density is 13.6 kg/liter, 13.6 times that of water.
Variants of SPECIFIC GRAVITY
specific gravity or relative density
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on specific gravity, visit Britannica.com.